Thursday, February 3, 2011

Verbum Hodiernum: DOMINUS

Today's word is DOMINUS, which makes a good follow-up to the previous post, pater. Today's word, dominus, is a noun formed from the verbal root dom- meaning to tame or master, to overpower something or something (compare the English words "dominate" and "dominion").

In Christian Latin, the word dominus can refer to a human lord or master, but it also is used to refer to God, the Lord God.

One perhaps surprising English word that comes from the Latin is the British word "don," meaning a university instructor. The English word is simply a shortened and contracted form of the Latin dominus. This is also the origin of the Spanish formal title, Don.

You can also see the Latin word in the English abbreviation, A.D., Anno Domini.

Even more intriguing is the history of the English word "danger," which also ultimately derives from today's Latin word. English "danger" comes from Old French dangier, which means "control, power, power to harm," via the late Latin word dominarium, which means the power of a lord or master. The modern meaning of "danger" as a kind of risk or peril developed later in English, and over time has essentially displaced the word "peril" (the word that reaches English from Latin periculum).

Here are some examples of today's word in Latin sayings and proverbs; for more information, see the page at the Scala Sapientiae, which contains notes on some of the proverbs cited below, as well as additional proverbs:

Erat manus Domini cum eis.

Magna opera Domini.

Ducit Dominus.

Omnia videt oculus domini.

Qualis dominus, talis et servus.

Minus est quam servus dominus, qui servos timet.

Dominus videt plurimum in rebus suis.

Dominus dedit, Dominus abstulit.

Duobus dominis ne servias.

Nemo potest duobus dominis servire.

Nemo potest dominis digne servire duobus.

Nemo potest dominis pariter servire duobus.

Tu praesens cura; Domino committe futura.

Pauper dominum, non sortem mutat.

Cave canem ac dominum.

Nisi Dominus, frustra.

A morte aeterna libera nos, Domine!

Nihil facit servus, si multi domini imperent.

Ridenti domino nec caelo crede sereno.

Bonum est potius confidere in domino, quam in homine.

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